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Monday, August 14, 2006

Should We Be Concerned?

Annette posted a link in a comment to one of the entries that I made a while ago and I wanted to come back to it. The link (see http://tinyurl.com/m5fud) was to an article entitled "Who's donating, and what do they want?", which discussed how "national charter-school advocates are digging deep to help underwrite Ken Blackwell's gubernatorial campaign" in Ohio.

We all know that in American politics there are many special interests that donate funds (soft and hard money) to political campaign in very transparent ways to try and further their cause. While I wouldn't disagree that these special interests have been very successful in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, but my question to you, is how much of a concern is this in other jurisdictions? As a follow-up, in the well over three dozen states have public-funded, state-wide virtual schools, is there less of a concern for this type of influence?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

When a cyber charter school CEO begins to make political contributions in another **state besides** his own state and is doing so to further expand his profiteering off the public school sector, this is a problem in my opinion.

8:17 AM  
Blogger MKB said...

But that is the nature of the system of government that you have in the United States, people donate money in an attempt to buy influence in how public dollars are spent. I'm curious about two things.

One, is this particular case any more of a concern than say Mitch Given, who is a registered lobbyist for Diebold Election Systems (one of the vendors of voting machines for election boards in Ohio) who has also donated substantial funds to the same campaign?

Two, in other states where there is an established, public-funded, state-wide virtual school is this less of a concern?


8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may be right that it just goes with the way things are here. I consider it an issue because we are talking about David Brennan and others making a profit on the taxpayers and then taking their money and investing it in another state--not on education for children but to political contributions to further expand their wallet.
~Annette -posted previously too and forget my name.

8:53 AM  
Blogger MKB said...

But why would David Brennan have any more success than Mitch Given at getting public funds for person, out-of-state ventures? Should we care, other than the moral outrage of money buying influence in politics, either way?


2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It depends on what benefit Brennan is getting from his investment in Florida. Are

PDF file:


One from a month ago:
Charter School Chain Targets Florida

There are too many cases where people or their votes are being bought. Look how many politicians leave office and get into making money in the charter realm.

5:28 PM  
Blogger MKB said...

But again, how is Brennan any different from the others attempting to buy influence? Does it make any difference that Brennan is in the education sector? If so, why? Why is education so sacred when they are all public dollars?


6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that it has to do with the money being sacred. It has to do with how much money does it take to get the job done. If it actually costs PA taxpayers $3000 to provide a year of cyber schooling for a student, why should a for-profit company pocket several thousand in addition for each student? In Ohio, when students enter charters the districts get a double whammy when paying out to charters.
The NEA purchases influence with Union dues out of their own pockets. I do see that different than a for-profit company making political contributions with the goal of creating more charter schools in a given state. Brennan is having a role in shaping policy due to the political power of his money derived from taxpayers. And the fact that the money is going out of state to lobby other state legislators is, imo, wrong. Taxpayers should have their say if this is/was the intended use of their money.
Loopholes Benefit Brennan’s Charter School Company; Family, Associates Gave $1.3 Million to State Candidates


7:35 PM  
Blogger MKB said...

Again, how is that different from Given? Voting machines have been shown to be more expensive and less reliable in accurately counting votes that traditional hand counts. With the only difference being the domain, these two individuals are doing the exact same thing. One has you outraged, the other only gets a simple, blanket condemnation.


9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outrage? Blanket condemnation? Well, I'm not quite sure what you mean. I can't comment on Givens because I'm in the dark about that situation other than what you have shared here. As far as outrage, I don't have any as it relates to charter schools. I'm in a state that doesn't have charter schools (at least yet). I'm just an interested spectator of it all. But I suppose there are things that could cause me outrage. If I was a taxpayer in a state where there are charter schools, and if corruption was revealed, and if it led to my property and/or state taxes increasing--I would be outraged that the govt. had allowed ineptedness and corruption which led to great losses of public monies for public education. I'm for local oversight and local control for public schools. If the taxpayers are responsible and are a part of the governing body, then they are invested in their community. However, when you don't have a governing board that is independent, what you have is rubber stamping going on.
Brennan does not have independent school boards. In this article it says that some of those people on his boards serve on as many as 17 other charter boards. The whole article and the 84 page report is worth reading if you are interested.
Official rips White Hat schools

No independent governing body leads to rubber stamping the decisions of the director or administrator, that leads to corruption. Case in point, would be the Halls as determined by an audit:

California: Charter schools owe $57 million, audit finds
"The operators of these schools are reaping millions in profit from public funds intended primarily for the education of students."

Who, Mike, is going to replace what was taken from the students and communities? Does money now grow on trees so a measley $57 million won't be missed? If I lived in CA, I would be a little outraged by corruption and mismanagement. But I don't. :)

Just for fun, go to yahoo search engine and type in the words:

"charter school fraud". See what you get and let me know if this is chicken little saying the sky is falling. Indictments are relevant.

"Charter for fraud?: when ''school choice'' programs go awry."

Mike, there are state officials who are aiding and abetting charter fraud.


12:24 AM  
Blogger MKB said...

But Annette, corruption is corruption. CNN only had a piece on in the past two days about billions being misspent, wasted, or abused at homeland security - particularly by external contractors, many of which donate substantial money to the Republican Party.

While I am a teacher, for me education is no more sacred than any other public dollar. I know that many of my fellow teachers would disagree with me on that point. But the bottom line is corruption is corruption, and one act is no more worthy of condemnation than another.

As long as you have a system that allows for high dollar amounts from corporations, either directly to the candidate or through PACs, and a system that allows for soft money, this is the reality that you will have in the United States.

The thing that amazes me about Americans in general (and I'm not necessarily included you inthis group) is that by and large most people will still vote for politicians who successfully (and in many cases with questionable ethics) play this system.


11:18 AM  
Anonymous carlo76 said...

This kind of fund-raising should be kept out of education. olitics should never interfere with educational policies unless they are for its good.

4:24 AM  
Blogger MKB said...


I'm sure that the people involved here honestly believe that they are providing a higher quality of education. Recent department of education reports that have been buried by the Bush administration state otherwise, but they honestly believe they are doing something better.


6:21 AM  

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